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Technology Trends: Meal Delivery Kits
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Technology Trends: Meal Delivery Kits - Executive Leadership Articles

Technology Trends: Meal Delivery Kits

Executive Leadership Articles

Technology Trends: Meal Delivery Kits

On the surface, although meal delivery kits only seems peripherally to be a technological movement, there is no question that mobile technology has made it possible for these services to explode in popularity, and recent developments are even more closely wedded to newly available technologies, with interesting implications for providers and consumers.

In case you’ve missed it, meal delivery kits are usually offered by service providers who send to your home a box of ingredients, often pre-measured but usually not pre-prepped, with recipes and instructions for cooking dinners two or three times per week. Meals are complete, with sides and desserts, and fans say anyone can make them.

The model is typically a subscription, although options exist for on-demand ordering according to customers’ preferences. Originally, most services planned menus ahead of time, and customers received whatever was on the schedule, but providers now try to work in some amount of diners’ choice, either letting them select from a list of options, or rating meals so future menus can be made to suit individual tastes.

It appears to have been a competitive space, as novelty and niche combined to pique the interest of consumers for whom just carving out time to prepare a meal remains a challenge. Add meal planning and grocery shopping to many professional families’ tasks, and you can see why reducing the burden of time to only the cooking and eating would appeal to many in this age of working non-traditional schedules.

Another option soon emerged: not meal kits, but fully prepared meals, with specific directions for heating. It’s yet another iteration of providers attempting to fill a need.

Providers soon ran into challenges. There appeared to be new competition every month, each new provider learning from the mistakes of predecessors and finding some new angle to lure curious diners away from the established disruptors. Some found scalability impossible; others simply never turned a profit. Yet somehow a few bigger names remain, even while others continue to seek a way to make this work. There seems little question that the demand exists; the real question is how providers can meet the demand while making money.

A related but parallel service has sprung up in many communities lately that makes for new possibilities: grocery delivery from supermarket chains. While mega retailers with delivery, like Amazon, could offer just about anything, consumers were still driving to supermarkets for apples and beef. Mobile app technology made grocery delivery quick(ish), easy(ish), and affordable(ish) for many of those same customers in the meal kit delivery demographic. As with those meal kits, reviews are clearly mixed, as both providers and consumers figure out what works and what doesn’t.

In some areas, meal kit providers are marrying themselves to grocery delivery, and some grocery chains are creating their own meal kits, either for delivery or for pickup at the store. And just as partnerships emerged with Google Home and Walmart, or with Amazon’s outright purchase of Whole Foods, agreements between meal kit providers and supermarkets make for interesting options. As one reviewer put it, meal kit services answered the question of what to eat later this week, but they didn’t do anything about what to eat tonight. Now, shoppers can pick up meal kits from some of those same providers, right off the shelf without a subscription or pre-order, and if the supermarket also has a delivery service, it’s effectively the same service.

It’s a hundred trees competing for sunlight in a large but restrictive forest. Which will survive the mad rush, and which will finally click with consumers on a large scale remains to be seen, but for the adventurous and curious diner, for now there’s always a new experiment around the corner for satisfying both epicurean desire and practical need.

 

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